If at first you don’t succeed…

My adventures in publishing began in the year 2000. That’s when my first novel, Killing the Boss, intrigued a literary agent who agreed to represent me to the major publishing houses. The book had a fairly experimental approach, telling its story through a collection of evidence and clues rather than a straight narrative. The agent submitted Killing the Boss to a half-dozen publishers and shared the responses with me. Here’s a sampling:

“…inventive and amusing. Although straying far from conventional storytelling methods, Brian Pinkerton is able to produce a thoughtful plot and an interesting cast of characters…” (Warner Books)

“A clever concept and I can even see it as a breezy independent film…” (Putnam Publishing)

“Here’s what Pinkerton does extremely well – he breaks the mold of murder mysteries, and he saved me from reading yet another formulaic, predictably plotted novel. Through email, interrogation transcripts, and media reports he weaves a credible story with varied characters… exceptionally creative.” (Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster)

“Smart, sharp and twisty as the best of Erle Stanley Gardner, and makes good use of the particular vagaries of our turn-of-the-century workplace… considerable talent is on display here.” (Villard/Random House)

“You really found something special in Pinkerton; he clearly demonstrates considerable talent, along with just the kind of quirkiness that too many first-time authors lack these days.” (St. Martin’s Press)

Great responses, right? Actually, no. Despite the favorable words, each publisher had a different reason for ultimately turning down the book. The editor at Pocket Books/Simon & Schuster wrote: “I am returning Brian Pinkerton’s novel… though I am returning it with praise… I’m sure you’ll find an editor who will jump at it.”

But that didn’t happen. The book didn't land a home. I was crushed. I considered giving up writing books altogether. But I didn’t.

I self-published Killing the Boss to get it out of my system. Then I started my next book, a suspense thriller called Abducted.

Abducted sold to a New York City publisher who distributed 60,000 mass market paperbacks across North America. It appeared everywhere, including Wal-Mart.

Abducted led to Vengeance, which led to Rough Cut and Killer's Diary...and I didn’t look back.

Sometimes I’m reluctant to include Killing the Boss in my bibliographies, since it is self-published, which feels vaguely like cheating, as if I didn’t “earn” the publication. But then I hear from total strangers who discover and love the book, and it doesn’t feel like cheating at all.

My first book is now reborn in the digital world. Amazon just introduced a special deal: a free eBook edition of Killing the Boss for anyone who buys the print edition. A great way to bridge publishing’s past with the present.

Killing the Boss by Brian Pinkerton
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Published on November 26, 2013 13:35 Tags: mystery-writing
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